El Chapo Guzman is no doubt the most infamous drug lord in the world. As the head of the Sinaloa cartel, he has, in recent times, made headlines because of his daring prison escapes. Having first been incarcerated in 1993, he was confined in Puente Grande, the toughest prison in Mexico at the time. Apparently, each prisoner in the institution was assigned two guards, which made it almost impossible to escape, not to mention that it had a sophisticated surveillance system to detect any escape attempts.
This is as reported by Business Insider. However, in 2001, El Chapo was able to overcome all this and escaped from the prison. According to a report by the New York Times, ” Mr. Guzmán needed plenty of help to escape on Jan. 19, and he got it. Someone opened his electronically secured cell. Someone disabled the video cameras. Someone smuggled him onto a laundry truck in a burlap bag, and someone drove him away… It offered evidence, as if more were needed, of how the law in Mexico can be bent with a fistful of money.”
President Vicente Fox and his chief of security Alejandro Gertz Manero are said to have been livid about the development and vowed to destroy the drug gangs and their network, which had gotten hold of law enforcement. What followed was an unprecedented move by the Mexican Attorney General’s Office to sack between 1,400 and 3,500 police officers for being involved in corruption.
Fast forward to recent events, and El Chapo was for the second time arrested in 2014. But in July last year, he was able to escape again, this time from Altiplano prison — the country’s highest security prison. This was via a 1.5 kilometer tunnel that started out of a secluded section of his cell to an unfinished building located in an open field. However, just barely six months after, he was recaptured and taken back to Altiplano, but his time, security was beefed up both in and around the prison to prevent another escape by the drug lord. Some of the measures taken to deter another escape include moving him to random cells each day, having fewer inmates to reduce confusion in the event of an emergency, and having light tanks and armored vehicles stationed right outside the prison to prevent an attack. Further away from the prison, checkpoints also feature extra security personnel and sandbagged areas.
That said, El Chapo has always had a major Achilles heel — the need to portray a larger than life figure, generally through different forms of PR, with violence in certain instances being employed, which consequently brings more attention. This works against him as authorities become keener to capture him, mostly in order to save face.
For example, in 2012, he allegedly made an attempt to demonstrate his gang’s presence in Nuevo Laredo by having his men massacre 14 Los Zetas gang men and decapitate their bodies. The bodies were put in a van, with an anonymous call being made to the authorities to report. Apparently, El Chapo wanted the mayor of Nuevo Laredo to stop denying his presence in the region.
A car bomb that exploded right in front of the Public Security Building also served to reiterate the message. In the latest instance, he tried to make a film about himself, getting Kate del Castillo to coordinate the venture. This is most likely to have stirred Mexican authorities as it would have been an embarrassment for both the President and security forces, making them even more determined to catch him.
This weakness was revealed in an Interview with Ismael Zambada Garci, El Chapo’s associate in the Sinaloa cartel, when asked during an interview if he would feature on Forbes as Guzman had. And his answer was “that’s foolish,” as of course it would bring more attention. And this was coming from a man who runs the Sinaloa cartel with El Chapo but never seen the inside of a jail. The quote is as reported by LiveLeak.
[Image via AP Photo/Marco Ugarte]